Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two quick links

Two important topics that deserve long posts, but I haven't got the time and haven't any particular insights so instead I'll link you elsewhere.

First, have you heard about the truly sickening atrocities being committed against women in the Congo? As part of the war/rebel action/what-have-you in the Democratic Republic of Congo, women are routinely raped in ways so brutal, you could not have imagined it in your worst nightmare. Bobita brought my attention to this intolerable situation that, somehow, the United Nations seems to be tolerating just fine. (As little as the U.N. has done on Darfur, they're doing less for the women of the Congo.) Read Canadian Stephen Lewis's speach about the atrocities. Don't read it if you're feeling fragile—really, the events he discusses are more horrifying than the violence in those "torture porn" horror movies like Hostel or Saw II or Captivity, and they're factual. Not sure what we can do to spur the global community to action on this. Please share any ideas you may have.

Second, Amanda Marcotte on the global gag rule. Read to learn why the gag rule (that prevents U.S. funding of overseas women's health initiatives) isn't about abortion so much as depriving women of contraception and reproductive health care.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Late at night on pay cable

Have you seen that new HBO series, Tell Me You Love Me? Last week, Mr. Tangerine was watching the first episode after I'd gone to bed. He raced into the bedroom to tell me what I'd missed (and this weekend, showed me the scene when the episode aired again): the money shot. Woman giving her male partner a handjob, a spurt ending up on his chest. (CGI spooge?) Other fictional couples on the show have fairly convincing sex on screen (pumping and humping), and there is no shortage of naked butts, penises, breasts, or cooter shots. And yet the rest of the show plays as a standard soapy/whiny drama about couples in counseling and the self-involved problems in their relationships.

The cast isn't cheesy porno people, either. There are people you've seen before. Sonya Walger was the Englishwoman on Mind of a Married Man (the "happy ending" show) and was also on Lost. Ally Walker played The Profiler back in the day, and has lost the furrows on her brow. The psychologist or psychiatrist the characters see is played by Jane Alexander, and apparently E.R.'s Sherry Stringfield will pop up too.

If you have not seen this show, you may be saying to yourself, "Wow, that show sounds hot. TV-MA, strong sexual content, explicit nudity? Whoo!" It actually turns out to be entirely unerotic. (Mr. Tangerine agrees.) It may look like real sex on screen, but it looks like real bad sex. Nobody's having fun. Nobody's moaning. Nobody's laughing. Man, this show could ruin real people's sex lives! It's highly irresponsible and an abuse of the TV-MA rating.

So if you're up late and want to watch something risque on cable to get into a frisky mood...don't watch this show. If you like rather depressing shows about imperfect relationships, though, it might be a decent choice.

Can you hear me now?

Last week, Tertia blogged about hearing loss. She took her son for a hearing test and thought he was deaf because he kept reacting when there was no sound—only it turned out that his hearing was perfect and he was reacting appropriately to sounds his mother could no longer hear. As we go through life and our ears are cumulatively battered by years of noise, hearing acuity often declines with age.

A couple of Tertia's commenters admitted to having trouble understanding what people were saying, but blithely expressed their desire to "la la la," remain in denial and avoid even getting their hearing tested by an audiologist. Here's how I responded:

Okay, you people who say you want to be in denial about age-related losses in hearing are seriously pissing me off. First off, don't think of it as age per se, but as accumulated exposure to loud noise that has been killing off the sensory cells in your ears. It happens.

I've been hard of hearing my whole life, and hearing aids do help a lot. If your hair covers your ears, nobody even knows you have them. If your hair doesn't cover your ears, those teeny in-the-canal and in-the-ear hearing aids, flesh-toned, aren't so glaringly obvious. What is glaringly obvious is hearing loss. If you turn the TV up loud, if you misunderstand what people have said and reply inappropriately, if you keep asking people to repeat themselves—believe me, people will notice your hearing loss more than hearing aids. And hearing aids don't bother anyone else, whereas blaring the TV or accusing people of mumbling does bother them. So don't be selfish and vain.

If you know someone who's hard of hearing (even with hearing aids—they help but they don't provide perfect childlike hearing levels), keep these in mind:

1. Speak clearly, with your face towards the person, and don't cover your mouth with your hand, a restaurant menu, etc. Lip-reading cues help.

2. If the person asks you to repeat yourself, don't say the exact same words again. Rephrase it! The different arrangement of sounds may be easier for the hard-of-hearing person to understand correctly.

3. If you want to tell them a secret, speak softly face-on. Whispering straight in their ear means no lip-reading or face-reading cues to help get your point across.

And if you'd like to preserve your hearing, don't blast your iPod or MP3 player. Younger generations will be hard of hearing much earlier in life because of those damn earbuds with the volume too high.


If you have any questions about hearing or hearing loss, feel free to ask. But speak up a little, will ya? Thanks.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The most inadvertently lewd town on earth

My in-laws have a house in Florida near a town called Inverness. What does Inverness have to offer? Well, next month, they're having another Cooter Festival, as previously mocked on The Daily Show. This local blogger loathes it. On the way out of town, you pass Cooter Pond., which...I don't know how that would be a good double entendre. Cooter wand, sure. Pond? I got nothin'.

Then there's the furniture store:

And during last week's visit to Florida, a new strip-mall eatery announced itself with bold signage:

Alas, the kafe was not yet open, so I don't know what's on the menu. Fish? Tacos? What else should they serve?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Catching up

I have some things to write about our trip to Florida last week, but I ought to be editing this very minute so I won't start on that. I do have that flight-related post I wrote during the flight, but that's on my laptop and not this machine, so that's embargoed for now. So let me share a Ben story instead:

Ben's sinus infection cleared up, but you know how sinuses are—they take a while to settle down, so he's still got a little phlegm-dripping action triggering a bit of a cough. This morning I asked him if he'd been coughing during the day at school (yesterday was his first day of second grade), and he was explaining to me the dripping, the coughing to clear his throat, etc. I gave him a Claritin to maybe clear his nose out a bit today, and he swallowed the wee tablet gladly.

Then Ben said, "I've been farting a lot, too. What can I take for that?"

Ah, the age-old question.